Billionaire Elon Musk finally may build a commercial tunnel if his Boring Co. completes an underground transit system for the expanding Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Boring Co. just got a $48.7 million contract to build a roughly one-mile loop beneath the convention center where autonomous electric vehicles would carry at least 4,400 passengers per hour, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted Wednesday to award the $48.7 million tunneling contract to Boring Co., even though the company has never completed a commercial tunneling project.
The board favored Boring over other bidders because its underground loop is supposed to be built faster and cheaper with less disruption of convention-center activities.
But two board members, Michelle Fiore and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, said they doubted the ability of Boring to complete the underground transit project because the company is a startup. Instead, they supported a competing bid from an established company in Austria called Dopplemayr Garaventa to build an elevated rail transit system.
The loop is expected to shorten a 15-minute walk to a one-minute ride at the convention center – which will measure 1.5 miles from end to end, after the 1.4 million-square-foot expansion project. In March, Musk promised in a tweet that the Las Vegas transit system would be operational by the end of 2019.
Last December, Boring introduced its first tunnel, a 1.14-mile route in Hawthorne, California, that the company has used solely for research. The company spent $10 million on the 18-month construction of the test tunnel.
Boring has discussed construction of a high-speed tunnel linking Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport, but the discussion has been unproductive, so far.
The company has negotiated to construct a transit tunnel between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. But the negotiations have stalled because Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s term in office is ending.